My Choice to Keep My Kindergartner in a 5 Point Harness

When I was pregnant and registering for my first child, I did a lot of research on all of my baby gear. I read multiple reviews and looked up statistics on cribs, strollers and most importantly, car seats.

Do you ever look back at the car seats of your youth and cringe?

As a child of the 80’s, it’s hard to shake the image of those bucket type car seats out of my mind. Thankfully, though, through the years, car seat research, just like everything else, has improved and car seats have become much (2)

To be honest, I didn’t know much about car seats beyond infant carriers and convertible car seats. As my oldest son began to reach the limits of his convertible seat, I decided to see what our next move was. Would it be a booster seat? Another convertible car seat with a higher limit? As I was looking up statistics, I found that the CDC listed that car accidents as the #1 cause of death among children in the United States. Because of this information, I decided I wanted to find the safest option for my child.

Many car seat manufacturers are now offering a five point harness seat with higher weight limits. This made me so happy, as I wasn’t comfortable with putting my son in a booster seat just yet. Some people are shocked that my son is in kindergarten and still in a 5 point harness car seat. While in the carpool line, I see multiple kids his age get into the car without a car seat or booster seat. I’m shocked, as I know that legally they shouldn’t be allowed to ride in a car with only a seat belt. Even though a parent may feel that their child is “old enough” to not need a car seat, they may actually not be big enough to safely sit with a lap belt.

photo (3)The Louisiana Child Passenger Seat Law actually states that a child should begin to wear a seatbelt once they are 6 years old, weigh more than 60 pounds and are 4’9. Even though my son is now 6, he still hasn’t hit the required weight and height limits to ride with only a lap belt. Many top car seat manufacturers not only have car seats that are 5 point harnesses with higher weight limits (ours goes up to 70 pounds), but after the weight limit is reached for the 5 point harness, it then converts over to a booster seat. That’s a win-win in my safety book!

The best way to make sure children are safe is educating their parents with the options available for them to decide what works best for their family. Whether your child is in an infant seat, convertible seat or a booster seat, it’s imperative to have your child buckled safely. I can’t be the only one who has seen a picture posted online of a child and just shook my head when you can obviously see the child isn’t buckled properly and therefore isn’t safe. Always refer to your manufacturer’s warnings, but a good safe practice is to always place the buckle at armpit level.

When did you switch your child to a booster seat? Did you know they now make car seats with 5 point harnesses with higher weight limits?

photo (4)

Mary Olivio
Mary is a caffeine addicted boy mom to Noah, Liam and Luke. This “stay at home” mom can typically been found cruising in her minivan, jamming to Beyonce with a Starbucks in hand on her way to carpool or after school activities. Mary has been married to her high school sweetheart since 2007. She is a founder of Delivering Hope NOLA and the Vanessa Wolff Scholarship Fund at her Alma Mater. Mary is passionate in the local preemie community and has been heavily involved with the March of Dimes since her sons Liam and Luke were born premature.


  1. My son just went to a high back booster with the regular seatbelt and he is 9 years old and just finished the 3rd grade 😉 He was using the 5 point harness until then. The same trend will follow my other children. I follow extended rear facing and extended harnessing 🙂

  2. I kept my 3yo rearfacing past her 2nd bday since she’s tiny for her age. I plan on keeping my son RF past 2 as well. I caught flak for it but I really don’t care. They’ll stay in 5-pt harnesses till they can drive! 😉 Thanks for the article!

    • My daughter is about to turn 2, and I don’t plan on turning her convertible carseat around until she exceeds the weight limit for it!

  3. This is an awesome article! The more moms that speak up about car seat safety the better. One day more people will jump on the bandwagon and people will stop giving us funny look.s.

  4. Please contact Lexlee’s Kids at 225-372-3991 for help installing your car seats! We are in Baton Rouge, but can get you in contact with a child passenger safety technician in your area.


  5. Your poor children must be humiliated by your overreaction to the possibilty of a car accident. I know that you want them to be safe, but really?They will probably be bullied at school over being treated as if they are infants. Yes, your children are alive, but so are the other children who don’t have mothers who suffocate them. Let them grow up and enjoy life.

    • Wow Mary, I cannot believe what I am reading. I respect everyone’s right to an opinion but when it compromises your child’s safety, I am baffled! Are you really more worried about what others will think of your children more so than their personal safety? Clearly you do not realize that car accidents are the leading cause of death in children, so your claim that the author’s “overreaction to the possibility of a car accident” is naive. I kept my child rear facing in her car seat well beyond her second birthday because she was smaller. Sure, I would have loved to turn her around, but knowing that I was reducing her fatality risk in an accident by 75 PERCENT was enough motivation in itself. And I will keep both of my children in a 5-point harness until it is no longer the very safest option for them. As far as them being “bullied” over it, I’d much rather have that issue to deal with than not having them with me at all. Wouldn’t you? If my children are teased over it, so be it. That’s where we as parents need to talk to our kids and instill confidence, not teach them to adjust their behavior in unsafe ways all because of what others will think. Our children cannot make these decisions for themselves, it is our responsibility as parents to keep them safe. We cannot put them in bubbles and protect them from everything, but this is an easy way to keep them safe in one of the riskiest activities they will be a part of, making it a no-brainer in my opinion.

    • It seems a little silly to imply that children over a certain age who are kept, for their safety, in a five point harness , are not being allowed to enjoy life. They may in fact be kept alive and safe longer because of their parent’s choice to keep them in a proper fitting safety feature.

    • Wow! That might be an over reaction to someone’s parenting choice. I am not quite sure how 5 point harness vs booster constitutes suffocation. And I am totally confused by your jump from car seats to being bullied. In fact you seem to be a bit of a mommy bully. I hope you aren’t raising your children to think the type of car seat someone rides in is a reason to humiliate them, but I can assume you are based on that post.

  6. There are a million things kids will bully other kids for. I’m not going to let that compromise my child’s safety. I agree with the other ladies. That comment is crazy and insulting. My 10 year old is still in a booster seat because she is little.
    Mary Olivio, you’re a fantastic mom! Good for you for doing your research, knowing the laws and what’s safest for your kids. Love this article!! Can’t wait to read your next one.

  7. If you are using the LATCH system in your vehicle, just make sure the seat plus the child doesn’t exceed the weight limit for it. If it does you’ll have to use the regular lap belt. I found a great resource at Search “latch weight limit” at the search bar in the upper right corner and click view. There will be a list of links, one being the pdf for weight limits.

  8. Mary, I don’t think I had given the length of time I’d need to keep Jane in a five point harness much consideration until your post. We’re so used to just living within the standard of care assigned to her age, I wasn’t looking ahead. But, I now have a new bullet point to add to my list of “questions to ask our pediatrician.” Thanks for bringing to light an issue that certainly helped me identify an area I need to do a bit more thinking about.

    With regard to parenting styles revolving around avoidance of bullying – I hope that Mark and I remain firm in our beliefs and are not swayed by the behaviors of children. I believe that if your child was bullied as a result of wearing a five point harness (which seems a bit of a stretch) or for any other reason, the parent who should consider action is that of the bully.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here